Gavin Murray
Graham Vincent

Member Article

Behind the Business with Grampian Continental

Gavin Murray, one of the founders of £15m turnover oil and gas haulage specialists Grampian Continental, takes bdaily behind the scenes of the business.

What key challenges has your company recently faced?

The two biggest issues for SMEs like ours are finding the funds to carry out expansion plans, whether that’s in terms of increasing the number of geographic locations or adding to our fleet numbers; and dealing with the red tape that seems to be specifically designed to strangle businesses and any kind of entrepreneurial spirit. I spend a lot of time at our offices in Holland and Italy, and it’s not a problem confined to the UK. SMEs are the lifeblood of the economy and it’s high time successive governments stopped paying lip service to it and made business support much easier to find and to draw down.

Rising diesel costs are always going to be a challenge for anyone in the haulage industry, and like any business we are constantly aware of our costs and looking at ways to reduce them. For instance we are currently evaluating the effect that switching over part of our 120-strong fleet of trucks and trailers to alternative fuels would have on the business.

What is your biggest achievement in the last 12 months?

Investing £70k in opening our latest operation in Bedlington in Northumberland and building a solid client base around it. With 205 sq m of storage and warehouse facilities plus driver accommodation, and with big industry players such as SMD, Wellstream and Narec all on the doorstep, it’s a perfect base for us. It’s close to North East ferry routes and onward transport via our offices in Holland and Italy, and places us nearer to key logistics hubs such as Leeds, Manchester and London. The site is doing really well, with a steady stream of clients coming on board and it is already helping us to open up more European and long haul trade routes.

What is your biggest focus for the coming year?

We are currently 50% ahead of sales targets, so our aim is to build on that by expanding our range of services and our network of routes even further. Although we are well known as specialist hauliers to the oil, gas and renewables sector, we also have a thriving general transport side to the business, thanks to a versatile fleet capable of moving anything from a simple 1kg box to 80-ton offshore structures.

If you had to choose one top piece of advice for someone just starting out a business, or is currently operating in your industry sector, what would it be?

Ignore the doom-mongers who say it can’t be done. Lots of people said we were mad to set up a haulage business in 2009 in the teeth of the recession, but one person’s economic downturn is another’s opportunity. If you spot a gap in the market, you have the track record and you’re confident in what you’re doing, market conditions are secondary. We are now a £15m business with plans to see that reach £20m by 2015. My best piece of advice is to focus on delivering great service, because that will win you repeat business, and profitability and new clients will follow.

Can you share with us your view of the current landscape of business, in your region or generally, and where your organization sits with in it?

We are just one of a handful of haulage companies to have the ISO9001 and ISO14001 quality and environmental certifications, plus the OHSAS 18001 Health & Safety Certificate. This puts us ahead of the competition in terms of being able to demonstrate quality processes and the ability to handle all types of loads, including hazardous waste.

In general industry terms, the new £1.5bn London Gateway deepwater port may well see the South East logistics map change dramatically once the region houses Europe’s largest 24/7 all-weather logistics centre. But with the Port of Tyne announcing record results and our other regional ports ramping up their investment in services and capacity, the business community of the North East is in a strong position to defend its economic territory and build on its success, and we aim to be part of that.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Graham Vincent .

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